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7 films with a fresh perspective on women

Julia Hitz | Nikolas Fischer
August 30, 2022

At the competition of the Venice Film Festival 2022, many directors are telling stories of women. Their perspectives are new, radical — and show a female view of the world.

Film still from "TAR" with actor Cate Blanchett as conductor Lydia Tar holding a baton.
Cate Blanchett as conductor Lydia TarImage: Florian Hoffmeister/Focus Features/Universal Pictures/picture alliance/dpa

'Tar': Women can also be mad geniuses

The genius and madness of artists, especially musicians, is a much-probed field in film history.

In "Tar," US director Todd Field tackles the subject with a focus on a woman: the fictional character Lydia Tar is a conductor who is the first woman ever to lead a major German orchestra.

Cate Blanchett plays the world-famous artist who must assert herself in a male-dominated profession — and struggle to maintain her mental balance in the process.

'L'immensita': The loneliness of a confined wife

"L'Immensita" means immensity or infinity. This drama by Emanuele Crialese is set in 1970s' Italy.

Penelope Cruz plays the role of a woman called Clara Borghetti, who moves into an apartment in Rome with her husband Felice and their three children. There is little happiness left in the couple's relationship; their love is a thing of the past, but they lack the strength for a separation. Clara throws herself into her role as a mother — but here, too, a conflict is simmering beneath the surface: Her eldest, 12-year-old Adriana, hates her name — and her gender identity.

Close-up of Penelope Cruz in "L'immensità" looking pensive.
Penelope Cruz in 'L'immensita'Image: Angelo R. Turetta

'The Eternal Daughter': An impressive mother-daughter relationship

Julie (Tilda Swinton), together with her elderly mother, visits the mansion that used to belong to the family. She wants to make a film about her mother. In the now empty hotel, the mysterious receptionist assigns them a shabby room. At night they hear noises and can't sleep. Is the hotel haunted? Long forgotten or suppressed secrets come to light.

Director Joanna Hogg offers a powerful film about family dynamics with an expressionistic vision.

'Blonde': A film goddess has had enough

The Netflix-produced film by Andrew Dominik shows a woman who, behind the facade of the screen goddess Marilyn Monroe, has a life all her own.

She feels trapped in the image that others have constructed of her, and even though she hopes to free herself from this persona, she ends up reenacting it too.

Film still from "Blonde" with Ana de Armas as Marilyn Monroe smiling into a mirror.
Ana de Armas as Marilyn Monroe in 'Blonde'Image: Netflix 2022/picture alliance/dpa

Ana de Armas portray an unsettled, confused, angry and driven Monroe.

"Blonde" is based on the novel of the same name by Joyce Carol Oates, which was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in 2000. The author expressed enthusiasm after viewing a rough cut of the film. What she saw was "amazing, brilliant, very disturbing and perhaps most surprising: a completely feminist interpretation," Oates said.

'Saint Omer': The ambivalence of motherhood

Also entering the race for the Golden Lion in Venice is the film "Saint Omer" by French director Alice Diop, who has already made a name for herself as a documentary filmmaker.

Her feature debut tells the story of two women, pregnant writer Rama (Kayije Kagame) and young woman Laurence Coly (Guslagie Malanda), who is accused of murdering her 15-month-old daughter in the northern French town of Saint-Omer.

Rama wants to write a novel and use the trial to transport the myth of Medea from Greek mythology to the present day. The trial works through how Laurence, who had a strict upbringing in Senegal, had to experience racism in Europe and became increasingly isolated. It confronts the pregnant author with her own family history — and future role as a mother.

'Bones & All': Cannibal in search of herself

This very special kind of road movie is based on the young adult book by US author Camille de Angelis.

The protagonist Maren Yearly, played by Taylor Russell, is on a quest to find herself, and her father, whom she has never met. Her aim is to try to understand why she feels the need to kill and eat the people she loves.

Film still from "Bones and all" with Taylor Russell and Timothee Chalamet sitting in the back of a pick-up truck.
Taylor Russell (l) and Timothee Chalamet in 'Bones & All'Image: MGM/Everett Collection/picture alliance

This is cannibalistic horror including teen love, starring Timothee Chalamet. The precise staging and special aesthetics by Italian director Luca Giadagnino promise pleasant little shivers while viewing.

'Other People's Children': The possible life of a woman at 40

A teacher in her 40s, played by Belgian actress Virginie Efira, falls in love with a man and unexpectedly becomes his four-year-old daughter's caregiver.

In this tragic comedy, French director and screenwriter Rebecca Zlotowski tells the story of a woman's internal conflicts (such as the desire to have children of her own at this age) and her external conflicts (for example, arguments involving the child's biological mother).

All of the stories by and about women presented here offer a consistently female perspective never before seen in cinema. A total of 23 films are competing for the Golden Lion in the competition at the 79th Venice International Film Festival, including five directed by women. It will be interesting to see whether one of the productions presented here will make it to the top.

This article was originally written in German.